low cost bonsai soil mixture suggestion please

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low cost bonsai soil mixture suggestion please

Post  isaac2233 on Sat Sep 29, 2012 2:38 am

I am new to the art of bonsai and i am looking for a quality soil mixture that will not be at a high cost but will not be a risk to the health of my bonsai i will be grateful for any suggestions.

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Re: low cost bonsai soil mixture suggestion please

Post  EpicusMaximus on Sat Sep 29, 2012 2:43 am

I am also new but just made my first soil last week from advice received here and online.

You can get a product called turface MVP (calcined clay) and screen it to keep only pieces 1/8" and bigger. Then you can mix this with pine bark mulch and coarse sand. You can also add other stuff such as pete moss, but the % of each you use, and what you use, will depend on the type of tree in question.

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Re: low cost bonsai soil mixture suggestion please

Post  Poink88 on Sat Sep 29, 2012 2:45 am

Welcome to IBC!!! cheers

Go to Turface website and check for the nearest distributor in your area. Turface MVP costs about $14.00/50lb bag. I add Hapi Gro landscapers mix which is fine pine bark (available at Lowe's) for less than $3.00/ 2 cu ft bag on it. My mix is about 2/3 turface , 1/3 Hapi-Gro.

There are lots of soil mix but this is what I use.

Good luck finding your ideal mix! This will depend on your tree, your location/weather, and watering regimen.

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Re: low cost bonsai soil mixture suggestion please

Post  isaac2233 on Sat Sep 29, 2012 3:29 am

the type of tree i have is a maple sapling

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Re: low cost bonsai soil mixture suggestion please

Post  rps on Sat Sep 29, 2012 4:50 am

Dario has suggested a very dependable & versatile mix. I use just a shade more bark for my (Amur) maples --- maybe 40% --- but admit this leads to more frequent repotting. Turface is great stuff --- and save those fines when you're done sifting! They're an unrivaled medium for starting cuttings or a great addition to the garden soil.

Hereabouts many growers substitute turkey grit (coarse granite sand available at feed lots for between $5 to $10 per 50# bag) for a portion of the turface. It holds less water (none actually), so aids drainage even further in a cool, often damp, climate like ours. It gives a bit more weight to the substrate & the sharp edges promote fine root development. But, if yours is a hotter dryer zone, your trees will be grateful for the extra vapor realized by two thirds turface.
I attach a link to our club's advice on growing compound for your diversion.
http://www.bonsaiwinnipeg.ca/Bonsai%20Basics/soil.html


Last edited by rps on Sat Sep 29, 2012 4:58 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Typos, again)

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Re: low cost bonsai soil mixture suggestion please

Post  JimLewis on Sat Sep 29, 2012 12:13 pm

isaac2233 wrote:the type of tree i have is a maple sapling

If you have just one tree, a 40 pound bag or Turface is probably a bit much. Check lowes or Home depot for Schultz Aquatic Plant Soil. It has been hard to find lately, but maybe you can order it on line somewhere. It is the same as turface, but in a smaller package.

_________________
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Low Cost Bonsai Soil

Post  bonsaisr on Sat Sep 29, 2012 2:26 pm

If you only have one or two trees, and you are new to bonsai, you are much better off buying a bag of commercial soil. Go to Nature's Way Nursery just outside Harrisburg. I'm sure he sells bonsai soil.
Iris

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Low Cost Bonsai Soil

Post  bonsaisr on Sat Sep 29, 2012 2:38 pm

The idea that sharp edged soil particles promote root division is a myth. This was shot down back in the days of the Listserv. Root division is initiated at the molecular level and has nothing directly to do with the shape of soil particles. I used chicken & turkey grit for years, but I found that they pack down and produce waterlogged soil. I now use silica aquarium gravel, which has rounded particles that promote better soil aeration. Think ball bearings.
Iris

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Re: low cost bonsai soil mixture suggestion please

Post  drgonzo on Sat Sep 29, 2012 2:57 pm

JimLewis wrote:
isaac2233 wrote:the type of tree i have is a maple sapling

Check lowes or Home depot for Schultz Aquatic Plant Soil. It has been hard to find lately, but maybe you can order it on line somewhere.

The Product isn't listed on the companies website any more...I wonder if its still being made.
-Jay

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Re: low cost bonsai soil mixture suggestion please

Post  Poink88 on Sat Sep 29, 2012 3:01 pm

JimLewis wrote:
isaac2233 wrote:the type of tree i have is a maple sapling

If you have just one tree, a 40 pound bag or Turface is probably a bit much. Check lowes or Home depot for Schultz Aquatic Plant Soil. It has been hard to find lately, but maybe you can order it on line somewhere. It is the same as turface, but in a smaller package.
While this is true...for me it only matters if you have some storage issue. Note that the 80 50# turface and 2 cf ft pine bark will only cost you about $17.00. Keep that in the back of your mind when purchasing that itty bitty package (I am a unit cost guy). Also remember that you will very likely have more than one plant (if you are anywhere like me) in the near future and will need more "soil". That sapling won't stay a sapling forever also. Just a thought.


Last edited by Poink88 on Sat Sep 29, 2012 3:22 pm; edited 2 times in total

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Re: low cost bonsai soil mixture suggestion please

Post  AboveBeyond on Sat Sep 29, 2012 3:11 pm

Poink88 wrote:
JimLewis wrote:
isaac2233 wrote:the type of tree i have is a maple sapling

If you have just one tree, a 40 pound bag or Turface is probably a bit much. Check lowes or Home depot for Schultz Aquatic Plant Soil. It has been hard to find lately, but maybe you can order it on line somewhere. It is the same as turface, but in a smaller package.
While this is true...for me it only matters if you have some storage issue. Note that the 80 # turface and 2 cf ft pine bark will only cost you about $17.00. Keep that in the back of your mind when purchasing that itty bitty package (I am a unit cost guy). Also remember that you will very likely have more than one plant (if you are anywhere like me) in the near future and will need more "soil". That sapling won't stay a sapling forever also. Just a thought.

What does the 80 # refer to? I'm on the Turface site and I don't see any reference to that. Are there different versions of the MVP Turface?

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Re: low cost bonsai soil mixture suggestion please

Post  Poink88 on Sat Sep 29, 2012 3:16 pm

AboveBeyond wrote:What does the 80 # refer to? I'm on the Turface site and I don't see any reference to that. Are there different versions of the MVP Turface?
Oops typo...it is 50# sorry Embarassed

It got mixed in my mind with my recent purchase of a 80# cement bag Very Happy


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Re: low cost bonsai soil mixture suggestion please

Post  AboveBeyond on Sat Sep 29, 2012 3:19 pm

Oh, it just the size of the bag then. I think I'll go pick up a bag today!

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Re: low cost bonsai soil mixture suggestion please

Post  Andrew Legg on Sat Sep 29, 2012 7:15 pm

Poink88 wrote:
AboveBeyond wrote:What does the 80 # refer to? I'm on the Turface site and I don't see any reference to that. Are there different versions of the MVP Turface?
Oops typo...it is 50# sorry Embarassed

It got mixed in my mind with my recent purchase of a 80# cement bag Very Happy

Avoid cement mate - it tends to make repotting a bit difficult! Rolling Eyes

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Re: low cost bonsai soil mixture suggestion please

Post  Andrew Legg on Sat Sep 29, 2012 7:17 pm

bonsaisr wrote:The idea that sharp edged soil particles promote root division is a myth. This was shot down back in the days of the Listserv. Root division is initiated at the molecular level and has nothing directly to do with the shape of soil particles. I used chicken & turkey grit for years, but I found that they pack down and produce waterlogged soil. I now use silica aquarium gravel, which has rounded particles that promote better soil aeration. Think ball bearings.
Iris

Hi Iris,

I'm very interested in your comment on root division. Would you mind expanding?

Cheers,

Andrew

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Re: low cost bonsai soil mixture suggestion please

Post  rps on Sat Sep 29, 2012 9:33 pm

bonsaisr wrote:The idea that sharp edged soil particles promote root division is a myth. This was shot down back in the days of the Listserv. Root division is initiated at the molecular level and has nothing directly to do with the shape of soil particles. I used chicken & turkey grit for years, but I found that they pack down and produce waterlogged soil. I now use silica aquarium gravel, which has rounded particles that promote better soil aeration. Think ball bearings.
Iris

ah, but it's such a lovely myth it's hard for me to let go.
that said, your ball bearing metaphor rings true --- i'm going to poke around for some aquarium gravel this weekend.

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Low Cost Bonsai Soil

Post  bonsaisr on Sun Sep 30, 2012 3:26 pm

Andrew Legg wrote:
I'm very interested in your comment on root division. Would you mind expanding?
Andrew
Nothing much to expand. The factors that promote root development include genetics, soil moisture, oxygen, fertilizer, health & growth of the canopy, temperature, plant hormones, sometimes mycorrhizae, and day-length. The shape of the soil particles is only involved as it affects the balance of oxygen and moisture. As I said, the idea that roots are stimulated to divide because they hit the edge of sharp particles is pure myth. The factors that stimulate or retard root division, listed above, are acting on the root meristem (growing tip), at the molecular level, which you can only see under a microscope.
About oxygen vs. moisture. There are some trees, including certain Ficus species, that grow in nature standing in water. But when we grow them as pot plants, they demand perfect drainage and drying out between waterings. Why? The water they stand in out in the jungle contains a plentiful supply of oxygen. When we put them in a pot, if the soil stays damp it contains no oxygen, so the roots die. We compensate by giving them water & oxygen through frequent watering & fast drainage.
Iris

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Re: low cost bonsai soil mixture suggestion please

Post  drgonzo on Sun Sep 30, 2012 4:41 pm

The formation of lateral roots is both initiated and governed by plant hormones produced in the leaves. As young leaves grow and begin producing the auxin, the hormone becomes available to the plant for use in controlling root division. Understanding this simple relationship and how it applies to bonsai helps us understand why root bound plants produce finer growth and how in practice a bonsai pot is such a powerful tool for controlling growth as the relationship is both mutually dependent and reciprocal. Root growth enables further top growth which produces auxins for further root growth and so on....cool huh? Elegant in its simplicity.

I still run across Bonsai texts that discuss the fallacy of sharp particles in the soil and root division......
-Jay

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Re: low cost bonsai soil mixture suggestion please

Post  rps on Sun Sep 30, 2012 5:10 pm

drgonzo wrote:
I still run across Bonsai texts that discuss the fallacy of sharp particles in the soil and root division......
-Jay

Ouch! I think I prefer "myth" to "fallacy" --- at least, when I'm guilty of perpetrating same..

But, seriously, thank you Iris and Jay both for your clear and [to borrow from Jay] "elegant" explanations/corrections. Your reality checks are always welcome and lucid additions to the topics/postings I read through.





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Re: low cost bonsai soil mixture suggestion please

Post  Andrew Legg on Mon Oct 01, 2012 1:08 pm

bonsaisr wrote:
Andrew Legg wrote:
I'm very interested in your comment on root division. Would you mind expanding?
Andrew
Nothing much to expand. The factors that promote root development include genetics, soil moisture, oxygen, fertilizer, health & growth of the canopy, temperature, plant hormones, sometimes mycorrhizae, and day-length. The shape of the soil particles is only involved as it affects the balance of oxygen and moisture. As I said, the idea that roots are stimulated to divide because they hit the edge of sharp particles is pure myth. The factors that stimulate or retard root division, listed above, are acting on the root meristem (growing tip), at the molecular level, which you can only see under a microscope.
About oxygen vs. moisture. There are some trees, including certain Ficus species, that grow in nature standing in water. But when we grow them as pot plants, they demand perfect drainage and drying out between waterings. Why? The water they stand in out in the jungle contains a plentiful supply of oxygen. When we put them in a pot, if the soil stays damp it contains no oxygen, so the roots die. We compensate by giving them water & oxygen through frequent watering & fast drainage.
Iris

Thank you Iris. The reason I ask is that I hear this a lot here, and I now have some ammo to counter it. I appreciate the explanation and the time taken to write it all down!

Regards,

Andrew

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Re: low cost bonsai soil mixture suggestion please

Post  Andrew Legg on Mon Oct 01, 2012 1:10 pm

drgonzo wrote:The formation of lateral roots is both initiated and governed by plant hormones produced in the leaves. As young leaves grow and begin producing the auxin, the hormone becomes available to the plant for use in controlling root division. Understanding this simple relationship and how it applies to bonsai helps us understand why root bound plants produce finer growth and how in practice a bonsai pot is such a powerful tool for controlling growth as the relationship is both mutually dependent and reciprocal. Root growth enables further top growth which produces auxins for further root growth and so on....cool huh? Elegant in its simplicity.

I still run across Bonsai texts that discuss the fallacy of sharp particles in the soil and root division......
-Jay

Thanks Jay,

I guess my question now is what are the mechanics of root division? On the top of a tree, new leaves and branches come from buds. Is there something similar on roots that would in theory allow us to mark the location of division prior to it's occurrence?

Cheers,

Andrew

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My solution for inexpensive bonsai soil…

Post  orcaman42 on Tue Oct 02, 2012 11:53 am

Oddly enough it comes from NAPA auto parts. Ask for part number 8822. Then ask if they have “Diatomaceous Earth” on hand. I paid about $5.00 for a 25lb. bag. Rinse it, sieve it & you’re golden. You can grow it in 100% of the stuff unless maybe if you have an acid loving plant? But if you’re using “organic” soil you can still mix a 30% organic component to it, fertilize it etc.

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Re: low cost bonsai soil mixture suggestion please

Post  isaac2233 on Sun Oct 07, 2012 5:50 am

would half sand and half soil be a suitable mixture i dont want to use it if it will be unhealthy for my tree.

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Re: low cost bonsai soil mixture suggestion please

Post  David D on Sun Oct 07, 2012 5:40 pm

I too have used the NAPA oil-dri. It worked well and have used it 100% and mixed. It is very inexpensive and have had no problems thus far.

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Re: low cost bonsai soil mixture suggestion please

Post  Leo Schordje on Sun Oct 07, 2012 5:53 pm

Iris is right, aquarium gravel does not compact.

A mix using 100% turface or 100% poultry grit has proven a poor choice in my experience. The particles being largely the same shape tend to settle, interlock and become rather compacted over time. I have had trouble getting water & air to roots in pure turface. Black mush of roots in the lower layers of an all turface pot is not a good sign.

Rounded aquarium gravel has been an issue for me, when used as the main inorganic because there is no interlocking at all and unless carefully tied in, things work themselves loose in their pots on me. I don't wire all my trees into their pots. Mature trees with larger diameter roots I do, but young whips, cuttings and all manner of sticks in pots that are in early training phases don't get tied into their pots. Here is where aquarium gravel alone would be a problem.

What seems to work best is a mixture. Turface, poultry grit (crushed granite) and some aquarium gravel or pumice or other more rounded aggregate. I also have been tossing in a small amount of charcoal, less than 10%. The mixture will settle enough to hold the tree in the pot, but it doesn't settle too much and compact, starving the roots of air circulation. One could use any ratios of one to another, adjust for your own conditions and the species you are growing. But the point is a mixture seems superior to single sources for the inorganic aggregate portion of a potting mix.

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Re: low cost bonsai soil mixture suggestion please

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